eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley

Ramblings of Matt

MEF + Factories Using an Export Provider

November 29, 2008 10:25 by matthaw

After my last post about MEF + Factories, I was chatting with Glenn Block (PM for MEF) about my approach. One of the first things he mentioned is why I hadn't used an ExportProvider. As you know, ExportProvider's are new in the latest drop, and provide an interception point for resolving an import to an export.


Taking a look back at the documentation on ComposablePart, I can see why Glenn mentioned this. In it, it states that a ComposoblePart must adhere to to Import/Export contracts. If you've looked at the prior example, you'll see that I'm explicitly violating that rule as I'm finding interfaces based on a base interface, not by Export! At this point, my mind started churning - mainly because there's not a lot of examples or descriptions of what an ExportProvider actually is - but because I wanted to do things "correctly" according to the framework provided. (As an aside, Glenn stated that a "What is an Export Provider" post or documentation is coming, maybe this'll boost that necessity!) What I ultimately came up with was a much cleaner solution than using a FactoryPartCatalog.


Introducing FactoryExportProvider:

   1:  public class FactoryExportProvider<T> : ExportProvider {
   2:     public FactoryExportProvider(Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod) { }
   3:     public FactoryExportProvider(Assembly assembly, Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod) { }
   4:     public FactoryExportProvider(IEnumerable<Type> types, Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod { }
   5:  }

What you'll see is again, it's very straight forward and provides a clean implementation in usage, just as the part catalog example did. Each constructor does just as it had done in the part catalog, so I'll not explain that again. One thing that I discussed with Glenn about was, is it appropriate to look for certain types within an Export Provider? His response was "absolutely you can do that". good, I think I've found the correct implementation, both from less code/object graph standpoint, but also from an intention standpoint.


Internally, the code is very simplistic. Since I'm finding these interfaces on-the-fly, and need more information than just the contract name, I needed to use a FactoryExportDefinition to store this information. I've you've looked at the prior example, you'll see this came back out of necessity.

   1:  public class FactoryExportDefinition<T> : ExportDefinition {
   2:     public FactoryExportDefinition(string contractName, Type type, Func<Type, T> resolutionMethod) { }
   4:     public override string ContractName { get { ... } }
   5:     public Type ServiceType { get; private set; }
   6:     public Func<Type, T> ResolutionMethod { get; private set; }
   7:  }

When finding all of the interfaces that implement the base interface specified in the FactoryExportProvider, I convert those into a list of FactoryExportDefinition objects. Reason being, is that the export provider compares an ImportDefinition to an ExportDefinition when finding all available exports. This comparison is done by implementing the GetExportsCore method. The idea of export providers, is that when resolving all dependencies, MEF will call into all of the registered ExportProviders to determine if they can supply the Export and will do a bunch of cardinality matching for you. Out of the box, MEF provides an export provider for it's registered part catalogs. Here's the FactoryExportProvider's implementation of GetExportsCore.

   1:  protected override IEnumerable<Export> GetExportsCore(ImportDefinition importDefinition) {
   2:     IList<Export> exports = new List<Export>();
   3:     var constraint = importDefinition.Constraint.Compile();
   4:     var foundExports = from d in definitions
   5:                        where constraint(d)
   6:                        select new Export(d, () => d.ResolutionMethod(d.ServiceType));
   8:     if (importDefinition.Cardinality == ImportCardinality.ZeroOrMore)
   9:        exports = foundExports.ToList();
  10:     else if (foundExports.Count() == 1)
  11:        exports.Add(foundExports.First());
  13:     return exports;
  14:  }

It's that simple. The Export's that are returned will have the resolution method called when the actual object is needed. When it comes down to including this within your application, it's just as easy as it was for the part catalog, you just register things a bit differently.

   1:  public interface IService { }
   2:  public interface IUserService : IService { }
   4:  [Export]
   5:  public class UserController {
   6:     [ImportingConstructor]
   7:     public UserController(IUserService userService) { }
   8:  }
  10:  // in your application
  11:  private void Compose() {
  12:     var catalog = new AttributedAssemblyPartCatalog(Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly());
  13:     var factoryProvider = new FactoryExportProvider<IService>(GetService);
  14:     var container = new CompositionContainer(catalog, factoryProvider);
  15:     container.AddPart(this);
  16:     container.Compose();
  17:  }
  19:  public IService GetService(Type type) { return ... }

And that's it. Ultimately, this leads to a cleaner implementation that uses less types that you have to manage, and, adheres to the correct intentions of the framework. Much thanks to Glenn who I chatted with for several hours last night! You can get the downloadable source here. Enjoy!


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December 1. 2008 22:29

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MEF + Factories Using an Export Provider - eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley


December 2. 2008 13:46

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My Technobabble : Export Providers and Custom factories with MEF


December 2. 2008 14:26

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Export Providers and Custom factories with MEF - Glenn Block


December 2. 2008 14:43

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Export Providers and Custom factories with MEF - Glenn Block


December 4. 2008 17:15

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Export Providers and Custom factories with MEF - taccato! trend tracker, cool hunting, new business ideas


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